Jamie Pollard shares updates on athletic department finances, new initiatives

Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard gives a breakdown on all of the football season ticket price increases for the 2021 season.

Matt Belinson

Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard gave a detailed report on the athletic department’s financial situation, initiatives fans can expect going forward and more in a video to fans Monday.

Finances update

In the 10-minute video presentation, Pollard outlined what the athletic department budget looked like before COVID-19 changed the outlook of 2020 and beyond and how the department will move forward.

Pollard explained that before COVID-19, the department was roughly a $90 million operation with operating expenses, debt service and more. 

When the pandemic’s first months began, Pollard and the athletic department were expecting to run at a $35 million deficit for the coming year, in large part because of the loss of most of the expected revenue from fans at games.

But the newest projection shared by Pollard on Monday shows that now the department has cut into the initial $35 million estimate by roughly $10 million.

This puts the athletic department’s new deficit at around $25 million by the end of this year. However, Pollard broke down the deficit not as a $25 million dollar deficit, but really, a $2 million deficit spread out and financed over the next 20 years.

The department was able to generate $8 million in revenue by having fans attend football games at Jack Trice Stadium, according to Pollard.

“There will be decisions we’re going to need to make in the near future to help us navigate that shortfall over the next 20 years,” Pollard said in the presentation.

New initiatives

As the financial situation for the department is trending in a more positive direction than anticipated, some new initiatives will start to take place within the athletic department.

Given all of the sacrifices made in and outside of the athletic department during 2020, Pollard announced the temporary 10 percent pay cut for all athletic department employees would stop.

Along the lines of salary changes, Pollard said he is renegotiating on Iowa State Head football Coach Matt Campbell’s contract for the future. Campbell and other football staff contracts will be discussed throughout the year in order to keep as much continuity as possible. 

Pollard said a big reason why Campbell wanted to stay in Ames is because of the investment back into the football program. A noticeable piece of that investment comes in the Sports Performance Center project outside of Jack Trice Stadium.

The project is expected to cost $90 million and Pollard said the new athletic facility will open in the spring, with the project being completely finished in the fall.

The athletic department will be going to the Ames Board of Regents in February to start plans of the gateway pedestrian bridge project. Pollard said the project should cost around $10 million.

Pollard said the bridge project is expected to be fully completed in fall 2022, connecting to a new 300 capacity RV parking lot that will connect to the parking lots north and west of CY Stephens.

“We look forward to tying all these projects together and moving forward beginning with the pedestrian gateway bridge,” Pollard said in the video to fans.

The athletic department will go back to the Board of Regents later in the spring to discuss the parking lots involved in the project.

“What can you do to help?”

‘What can we do to help?’

It was the question Pollard said he was asked the most over the last year from fans and donors who wanted to help the athletic department during the challenges of 2020.

Pollard laid out two initiatives he hopes to see fans and donors take part in to do their part.

1) Renew football season tickets in March

“There’s never been a better time to be a part of the Cyclone football fan base and we need all of you to renew your season tickets,” Pollard said in the 10-minute presentation.

Pollard shared there will be price increases for all season tickets for the 2021 football season, including student tickets going from $150 to $175.

2) Renew Cyclone Club membership

Another way fans can help the department is by renewing their Cyclone Club membership when renewals go out in February.

“Over the last 10 years, the Cyclone Club has been our lifeline,” Pollard said.

And the numbers show it.

Pollard showed that over the last three years, Cyclone Club members have generated over $11 million annually. Members made the department $11.9 million in 2018, $11.8 million in 2019 and $11.6 million in 2020.

But right now, Pollard said donations for the Cyclone Club are at $2.5 million.

He expressed in the video he understands COVID-19 took away a lot of benefits that come with a Cyclone Club membership but called on fans to look at the way athletes were able to perform this past year through all of the challenges.